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  • Bill Greider

Deb Defelice and the Creation of a Safety Culture


Nothing is more important than the health and safety of people in our business.


In some cases, it's an "activity" done outside of regular work. In some cases, the only time we think about it is when there is an accident, injury or "near miss". Often, when this happens, we react with a countermeasure. The other time we think about it is when we need to enforce a policy of some kind....people not wearing PPE, for example. We may have to write someone up, send them home, or worse, let them go.


Instead of reacting, can we be proactive? How do we transfer ownership of safety to the people who do the work?


Employee engagement is essential if a company wants to reduce incidents and injuries. But getting everyone engaged is not always easy. A3 is a great way to get people not only involved in the recognition of workplace hazards, but in their control as well. Engaging employees to take health and safety into their own hands prevents potential accidents and injuries from happening;. Those small hazards you disregard on a daily basis become accidents the longer you ignore them. Sweat the small stuff so you don’t have to deal with bigger issues down the line.


Meet Deb Defelice, Environmental Health and Safety Manager at Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals (Wallingford, CT). Deb is one of the very best at knitting together continuous improvement, continuous learning, and safety. If an employee is involved in a "near miss", notices a potential hazard or is injured, Deb works with them to get that incident on the A3 board immediately, helps them pull together a team of 3-5 people, gain a thorough understanding of the current condition, work through root cause, and implement countermeasures. The beautiful part is the A3 closing, where that A3 leader teaches his or her peers what happened or almost happened, and what the countermeasures are. People pay very close attention when they are being taught by their peers! It also gives the Safety Director (Deb) the opportunity to remind people about specific safety topics related to that A3. USSM has completed thousands of A3s, many of which have been led by people eliminating the possibility of injury.


If I walk into your plant, and pull someone aside randomly, and ask them "what's important here", will they say safety? If there is ALWAYS an A3 on the board that involves health and safety, and they've attended a couple of dozen safety A3 closings, there's a good chance they might answer "safety!"

Sure beats having to "write someone up." Deb is simply one of the best at what she does.

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